David Seeley

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What gets you? Spiders, creepy clowns, snakes? For me it’s 1) deep water/drowning and 2) heights, either of those likely to plague my rare nightmares, and both frighteningly popular scenes among crime pulp cover artists, vintage paperback cover illustrators and many of the B&W’s and duotones in the prewar pulps and postwar men’s adventure mags. So artist David Seeley’s terrifying depiction of a woman being shoved out of a highrise window has been giving me the chills since I first spotted it. (Kinda shivering right now.)

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Neither prudish nor particularly political, normally I just yawn when it comes to contemporary artists doing pinup style art. Seventy years ago? That was then, this is now. And many of the subjects in David Seeley’s work do seem to lose track of their clothes, except for some skimpy lacies. But they never seem to lose sight of their guns, and maybe that’s what caught my eye and why the work reminds me less of peekaboo paintings and more of familiar Robert McGinnis 1960’s series paperback covers and the popular styles seen in so many 1960’s/70’s illustrated film posters.

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Boston based artist David Seeley studied architecture and first worked as a successful architect until some serious soul-searching led him to pursue art full-time. In a modern day spin on many postwar illustrators’ shared NYC studio spaces, Seeley shares a virtual studio with fourteen other artists including the likes of Greg Manchess. Seeley’s technique is an intriguing blend of digital photo-composition merged with traditional oil painting on archival printouts, and he details his process at his site, www.daveseeley.com. Check it out…it’s pretty interesting even if you’re not an artist.

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Don’t Tread On Me.

Noir Rug Image

I stumbled across this on Pinterest, just one of the jumble of random pins you see once you log in. It’s a handsome enough if somewhat unusual photo of a noir-ish femme fatale, one leg raised to reveal a provocative glimpse of lacy thigh-high stocking top, one hand tucked behind her back to hide a very lethal looking automatic. On closer inspection, I realized it’s a Holiday setting, with what sure looks like a Christmas tree across the room.

But what’s really unusual about this image is that it’s not just some photo. It’s a rug.

Yes, a rug. Available from Wayfair, the 2’ x 3’ “Woman Black Area Rug” from East Urban Home.

Wayfair Noir Rug

As it happens, the writing lair has wall-to-wall off-white berber, no throw rugs needed. Not sure this would go well elsewhere ‘round here either, even if it listed for almost $350 but is available now for only $108.99. Home décor tastes aside, I wish the photo was credited. I’d love to know who shot this (and how the hell it ended up on rug).

I can’t decide if this is really sweet, or really, really weird.

A Direct Hit.

lisa taylor by chris von wangenheim dior 1976

Ah, the seventies: Indulgent drugs and disco-decadence…and Dior. Model Lisa Taylor’s shot by Chris von Wangenheim (that is, unless she shoots first) for Christian Dior sunglasses in 1976.

Christian Dior sunglasses 1976

Dave Lebow

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Yes, they breed artists in Oklahoma too, where painter Dave Lebow was born, though his arts education occurred on the coasts, first in painting at Boston University and then earning his MFA in Experimental Animation at Cal Arts. For most of the first decade of the 2000’s, Lebow worked in animation, but returned to painting full time in 2009. Various sites refer to his style as ‘retro contemporary’, which doesn’t make sense at first, but in a way, is precisely what it is. On one hand, the work pays homage to the fantasy and adventure pulps of the 1930’s, but is reimagined through a contemporary 21stcentury vision. Similarly, his technique is fully traditional, often doing monotone greyscale grisaille underpaintings with oil glazes over those. A visit to the artist’s blog (link below) not only showcases more work, but preparatory sketches, model photos and much more. A lot of the work is epic fantasy oriented (with a wry contemporary twist, mind you), but I’ve collected several here that focus on more noir-ish settings and situations.

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http://davespaintingblog.blogspot.com

A Good Day To Die

good day to die polek holdova

A good day to die? Hmmm. Guess that all depends on which end of the gun you’re on.

“Good Day To Die”, by Lucem, from Polek Holdova.

Mrs. Olson’s Got Herself A Gun

Virginia Christine

Virginia Christine from 1947’s The Invisible Wall, a noir-ish crime film by Eugene Ford (with an early appearance by a young Jeff Chandler) about a gambler back in civvies after WWII who returns to work for his syndicate, but manages to lose $20,000 of the boss’ dough…and to kill a mug in the process. I haven’t seen it, but it must be good. After all, just check out the double-bill promo art below: “Booze-Blondes-Bullets, The Direct Trail To Skid Row”. All that a 1940’s crime film needed, right?

Virginia Christine (1920 – 1996) may be better known to retro TV fans as ‘Mrs. Olson’ from over 100 Folger’s Coffee commercials. But Christine was a respected actress who appeared in The Killers (she tested for the lead but lost out to Ava Gardner), High Noon, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Judgement At Nuremberg. Not a bad resume. Hey, she even did a turn in one of Universal’s horror films, 1944’s The Mummy’s Curse sporting a brunette Bettie Page do, no less.

‘Mrs. Olson’ clearly can wield an automatic as deftly as she can a percolator. Love that photo above, a cropped version first seen via Seattle Mystery Books’ new blog (seattlemystery.newtumbl.com), originally from Mudwerks’ Tumblr, till I spotted the full framed image at Pulp International (pulp international.com).

The Invisible Wall Poster - Double Bill

Femmes Fatales ‘Round The World (Even Romania)

XaviRo 1

There’s more to Romania than Transylvania and Count Dracula. There’s Mihai Cvasnievschi at Bucharest’s XaviRo Studio, master of analog and digital portrait, commercial and art photography. There’s much to see at the xavi.ro site, but here are some striking femmes fatale (or ‘stiletto gumshoes’…you decide) images spotted there. ‘Noir’, classic noir, neo-noir, Euro-noir…whatever.  Dark and dangerous is always a lovely but lethal look.

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Have A Drink First?

Isa Vargas

If she offers you a glass of merlot, I’d accept. In fact, I’d go along with whatever she suggests, seeing as she’s the one with the revolver in her hand. By photographer Isa Vargas.

Yeah, But She’s Got The Gun…

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In the end, it’s all about who’s holding the gun.

Master fashion photographer-storyteller Steven Meisel shoots model Carolyn Murphy for a stylish editorial in Vogue Italia from 2002 that’s a sumptuous bit of Euro-Noir. Who can tell if Murphy’s gotten mixed up with a dangerous duo out of love for the handsome boy-toy, or been blackmailed by the suave ringleader? What we do know is that she’s the one holding the gun in the end, and making off with the money.

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